Herzog opens four-seat gap

Isaac Herzog and Benjamin Netanyahu
Isaac Herzog and Benjamin Netanyahu

After six years in power, cut off from the national mood, Benjamin Netanyahu was the last to spot the reaction against him. 

The 2015 election campaign, which Benjamin Netanyahu thought he would win at a canter and the commentators wrote off as boring, is turning out to be one of the most dramatic ever. With five days to go, the latest "Globes" poll, like other polls published in the past twenty-four hours, indicates that the possibility is growing that the man who went into the campaign with fourteen seats predicted for his party and no-one giving him a chance, Adv. Isaac "Buji" Herzog, the ultimate nerd of Israel politics, could make history and expel for a while, if not for ever, the incumbent first lady from the prime ministerial residence on Jerusalem's Balfour Street.

In the Rafi Smith Institute poll for "Globes", Herzog wins 24 seats. The goal is within reach. The "Globes" poll shows a four-seat gap that the Zionist Union has opened up on Likud. This is a trend. The Likud party wins 20 projected seats, but the feeling on the ground and in Likud strongholds is that the ruling party's position is worse than the polls indicate. This poll could be a death blow for Likud, or the light at the end of the tunnel, depending on whether Likud supporters scent defeat and run, or rally round to save the day.

All the same, despite the encouraging figures for the Zionist Union and the left block, it has to be said that the race is open. Five days in Israeli politics are an eternity, and if the polls are to be believed, Netanyahu will find it much easier than Herzog to form a homogenous block. Together with Naftali Bennett's Habayit Hayehudi (12) and Aryeh Deri's Shas (9), United Torah Judaism (6), Moshe Kahlon's Kulanu (9), and Avigdor Liberman's six seats, Netanyahu can set up a block of 62 Knesset seats.

The fate of the right-wing block depends to a large extent on the fate and size of the Yahad movement, led by Eli Yishai. In the "Globes" poll, Yishai wins four seats. The more his party grows, the greater Netanyahu's chances of forming the next coalition.

At present, everything is still to play for. It all depends on the number of seats and the gap between the major parties, which Netanyahu is trying to narrow through interviews and hysteria. Just three months ago, he was prime minister of Israel with a third of his term still ahead of him. In surveys carried out in November, Herzog and the Labor Party just about scraped 14 seats, Tzipi Livni and Hatenuah didn't pass the minimum vote threshold, Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party were hemorrhaging, with fewer than ten seats, Eli Yishai was part of Shas, Liberman's Yisrael Beitenu was expected to get 13 Knesset seats, Zehava Galon and Meretz were in double figures, and the only threat to Netanyahu was Bennett, who soared to 18 seats in the polls.

Netanyahu thought the election would be a stroll in the park. He never imagined that within three months his whole political career would boil down to the question whether or not he would be able to blur the revulsion at him. The man who hasn't met any ordinary people in the past six years didn't know what was really happening here. He kept talking about Iran, and didn't spot what was happening to Likud, and what was happening to his popularity. If anyone in Netanyahu's circle had had the courage to tell him how he was perceived outside the aquarium and to provide him with a true picture of the situation, perhaps he would not have cut short his term with his own hands.

Poll results

If the election were held today, for which party would you vote?

(Results in terms of Knesset seats, first the current poll, followed by the result of the February 26 poll, and, in parentheses, the number of seats in the current Knesset).

Likud 20, 22, (31)*

Yisrael Beitenu 6, 6 (-)

Yesh Atid 12, 11 (19)

Zionist Union (Labor-Hatenuah) 24, 23 (21)

Habayit Hayehudi 12, 12 (12)

Arab list 13, 13 (11)

Shas 9, 8 (11)

Yahad (Eli Yishai) 4, 4, (-)

United Torah Judaism 6, 7 (7)

Meretz 5, 5 (6)

Kulanu (Moshe Kahlon) 9, 9 (-)

*jointly with Yisrael Beitenu in last election.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on March 12, 2015

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2015

Isaac Herzog and Benjamin Netanyahu
Isaac Herzog and Benjamin Netanyahu
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